Puttering around with dot-com ads

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If art imitates life, then agency creatives must be doofus-tidious duffers. TV ads for send.com and StoreRunner.com, from NY shops Cliff Freeman & Partners and DDB Downtown, respectively, feature errant shots with potentially painful results. Send.com (see Page 28) offers a smarmy character called "The Giver," who takes a shot to the crotch while trying to deliver the gift of a country club round of golf. StoreRunner.com touts the knowledge of its product experts by showing one's ability to identify golf balls, after they smack him in the head. Thankfully, the admakers weren't into skeet shooting.

Budget's barfing bear frosts Ford

Budget Rent A Car says its new campaign (AA, Oct. 8) tested well with consumers, but less accepting is Ford, whose vehicles are featured. The humorous ads are "very distasteful. . . . We are in discussion with Budget to see what might be done," a Ford spokeswoman says, lamenting, "We're trying to burnish [Ford's] corporate trustmark, and they show a bear puking . . ." That would be the TV spot in which a Budget marketing strategist imagines being a forest ranger and feeding a bear cub, only to have it vomit in his face. A Budget spokeswoman says her company's first ad work from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, is getting "a good response." She wasn't aware of any objections from Ford, though one radio spot had been pulled because of consumer concerns.

Miles of smiles at 4A's conference

Agency creative heavyweights knit wit into the Four A's Creative Conference last week in Miami Beach. In one session, McCann-Erickson's Nina DiSesa talked about how she handles male underlings when telling them their work isn't good enough. She lets them fiddle with toys in her office first so they can get a little "testosterone release." As Di-Sesa asserted, "McCann is a boy's club, but now they're my boys." Ted Sann revealed BBDO's method for getting good creative -- a process called "hocking." Not to be confused with "bringing up phlegm," he explained, it's "continually annoying people until they deliver good work." Sann then added, "Phil is the Jedi of hocking," referring to session moderator Phil Dusenberry, BBDO's NY chairman and legendary creative director. During a panel led by Randall Rothenberg, panelist Lee Garfinkel admitted he wasn't prepared with an organized presentation. "I've been a little busy in the last two weeks," the Lowe & Partners U.S. creative chief admitted, alluding to newly merged Lowe Lintas & Partners. "In fact, I'm about to call my agency in the next 15 minutes to see if we're merging with McCann."

P&G's relations look more Rosie

Procter & Gamble and Rosie O'Donnell appear to have patched things up. P&G set off a PR and marketing disaster a couple years back when Scope released a survey of the 10 least-kissable personalities, including O'Donnell. She made a considerable fuss, including numerous on-air pitches for Warner-Lambert's rival Listerine. But last week, O'Donnell was the presenter of the 1999 Pantene Shining Example Award, and the brand showed its appreciation with a $2 million "donation"/sponsorship of the gala for O'Donnell's For All Kids Foundation.

Got an Adage? Tell Dan by phone, (312) 280-3109; fax, (312) 649-5331; or e-mail, dlippe@crain.com.

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